27 Nov 12 unique gift ideas for outdoor women!
I usually hate lists, but I love supporting women-owned brands and I love discovering gifts that fall into the category of ‘functional’ or ‘unique’, rather than just ‘random stuff’ that nobody actually wants. I’ve opted to include 12 items in this gift guide, since it is, at the very minimum, breaking from tradition of doing a list of only 10 things. I’ve tried to include things in this list that are consumable or so unbelievably functional that they aren’t simply a replacement piece of gear – but rather something that will add value to your outdoor experience or life.
Note: with the exception of Kula Cloth™ (which is my own invention), I am receiving zero compensation for mentioning any of these items. Click on the name of each item for a link to their respective websites!
About: Deb Cyros founded Outdoor Pantry after hiking the PCT in 2016. The meals offered by Outdoor Pantry are creative and delicious. My husband (who hates stew) reported that the Beef Stew was one of the best backpacking meals he has ever eaten.
Why: Outdoor Pantry’s Biscuits and Gravy is hands down THE MOST DELICIOUS backpacking breakfast that I have ever eaten. You add boiling water to the gravy and allow it to sit for about a minute… and then crumble in the freeze dried biscuits. I used this breakfast to start a 15+ mile day in the Sawtooth Range of Idaho, and it was quite possibly the most hearty, energizing pre-hike breakfast I’ve ever had. My standard for backpacking meals is this simple question: “Would this taste good if I ate it at home?” These biscuits and gravy are THAT good.
About: NOSO was founded by entrepreneur and all around inspiring woman, Kelli Jones in 2015. Kelli saw too many people patching their puffy coats with duct tape. She thought there had to be a better way, but after some research, she found the available products to be lacking in quality.
Noso strives to help eliminate textile waste by making it easier to repair your gear. Noso wants to preserve the environment by keeping gear out of landfills and being used.
Why: You will literally like your clothing MORE after you apply a NOSO patch. I placed one of the longhorn patches on the butt of my beloved Arc’teryx Palisade Pants (they tore on an off trail scramble). Instead of paying $50 to have them repaired – or spending $150 for a new pair of pants – I put a NOSO patch on them… they instantly became even more awesome than they were to begin with. I even wrote a poem about it:
These pants of mine
I loved them so
Until I ripped a little hole
And so they sat
Alone and sad
In my drawer
I was not glad
Until one day
I found a patch
That I could put
Right on my slacks
Pants are boring
Pants are plain
But pants with a bull on the butt
Ups your hiking game
I climbed a lot faster
I scaled higher peaks
My IQ went up
With that bull on my cheeks
If your clothing is ripped
Don’t feel low
Make your gear even better
Slap on a NOSO
About: Well, this is my own invention, so I might be a little biased about how awesome it is. The idea for creating an intentionally designed pee cloth came to me in 2015, but I was honestly too afraid to pursue it. I was a police officer at the time and I didn’t know how to sew – I was paralyzed by a lot of limiting beliefs that told me my dream of creating this product was silly. Fast forward to 2017, and I was in a nearly fatal car accident. Suddenly, the illusion of stability that had paralyzed me was gone – I had nothing to lose, so I decided to go for it. Driven by a desire to promote Leave No Trace (after finding heaps and heaps of discarded toilet paper in the wilderness) and to empower women in the backcountry, I set out on a journey to design Kula Cloth™. It has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and watching this product become a real piece of gear that women feel proud to display on their packs is a feeling that I can hardly describe.
Why: I designed this piece of gear to be just that… a piece of gear. I never understood why we had no problem spending $500 on a tent, but we were OK using something for a pee cloth that could have been mistaken for a rag at a Jiffy Lube. The details are what makes Kula Cloth™ special: antimicrobial absorbent side, waterproof ‘clean’ side, snap to attach to backpack, double snap for privacy and cleanliness, and reflective thread so that it is easy to locate in the dark with your headlamp (when you drink too much hot cocoa before bed).4. Discovering Wilderness food cozy – $16.00
About: I met Discover Wilderness owner Jessica Johnson when I was teaching a backpacking class for Washington Outdoor Women. At the time she was contemplating whether or not to assume ownership of this cozy business, and I’m so proud of her that she decided to go for it!
Why: I cook almost exclusively using the ‘Freezer Bag Method’ (i.e. I put dehydrated meals or freeze dried meals into freezer bags and simply add water). Even when I purchase pre-prepared freeze-dried meals, I usually transfer them into a different bag, simply to save weight on the trail. Using a food cozy is a game changer for rehydrating meals and for keeping them warm until you are ready to eat them. In colder months, a cozy is a MUST for keeping meals warm before consumption. Bonus: the Discovering Wilderness cozies are absolutely adorable. I’ve used food cozies before that look and feel like eating out of a bag that belongs at a chemistry lab – these are soft, attractive and effective.
Constructed of washable and breathable fabric, it retains both heat and cold, depending on what you have in the cozy. The outer fabric is 100% cotton and the liner fabric is a Washington State, USA made poly/Mylar needle punched insulating fabric .
Cozies are 8″ wide and 8 1/2″ long. Weight is on average is 1.1 to 1.4 ounces, depending on outer fabrics weight/thickness. Dimensions and weight are approximate, as these are hand crafted items, sewn one at a time.
About: Kind Apparel was founded by Mallory Ottariano in 2012. After college, she started an Etsy shop with a $100 serger that she bought on eBay. She started by making fun, colorful clothing using upcycled fabric. Rather quickly, she outgrew her humble basement studio, and Kind Apparel was born. Mallory designs all of the prints herself and fabrics are made from recycled plastic bottles and production is based in the United States.
Why: I’ve used this headband on everything from Musical Mountaineers adventures in insanely frigid temperatures to trips to the grocery store when I haven’t taken the time to actually comb my hair (not afraid to admit that). These headbands are soft, warm, lightweight and absolutely gorgeous. You’ll feel good wearing them – especially with a gown and a puffy jacket.
About: First Ascent Coffee was founded by a wife/husband team who previously owned a cafe. Avid backpackers, they were disappointed with the coffee options available for backcountry excursions. With their extensive knowledge of coffee, they set out to not only roast, but also freeze dry their own instant coffee. The result is a gourmet coffee that will please even the most discerning coffee-snob.
Why: It’s coffee. But seriously, it’s so good that you won’t even know you are drinking ‘instant’ coffee.
About: Nikki Frumkin is not only a personal friend, she is also an incredibly talented artist and a truly kind and inspirational woman. Her art evokes the color and emotion that we all feel when we venture deep into the mountains. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to watch Nikki paint (and to perform music while Nikki is painting), and she truly captures something very special in her art.
Why: Not only is this a completely functional calendar, it’s also a work of art. I genuinely look forward to the first day of each month when I can flip to the next work of art that adorns the wall of my office. Quite simply, I feel much happier when I am looking at the art in Nikki’s calendar.
About: Claire Giordano is a PNW -based artist whose work has been featured in Alpinist Magazine. Charlotte Austin is a PNW- based adventure writer and mountain guide whose work has also been featured by Alpinist Magazine, REI, Misadventures, and Seattle Met (just to name a few – barely scratching the surface). Together, Claire and Charlotte collaborated on a beautiful set of notecards featuring Claire’s art and Charlotte’s words.
Why: There are two reasons why this notecard set makes a perfect gift. #1, you can simply frame these cards – they are that beautiful. The combination of words and quotes is emotional and stunning. #2, letter writing is a lost art. Instead of simply buying ‘stuff’ this Christmas – sending somebody a heartfelt note of deep appreciation (that can also double as a frameable work of art!) can have an impact that ripples far beyond simply giving a gift. Soaking in the feeling of deep appreciation not only has an impact on the receiver, but it also has an impact on you as the writer of those words. You simply cannot be angry or frustrated and grateful at the same time. Writing letters to important people in your life can completely transform your holiday experience and help you stay focused on what really matters.
About: Contour Creative was founded by Devan Nichols, who literally hand carves the stamps that ultimately become the designs for her unique line of clothing. The Contour Creative tagline is, “Bringing Confidence to Your Closet.” I remember talking to Devan for the first time and asking her what her inspiration was in creating clothing and she said, “I just wanted to make clothes that made me feel good…clothes that I wanted to wear.”
Why: Not only are Contour Creative’s sweatshirts exceedingly snuggle-worthy… they also don’t look like you’ve simply never changed out of your pajamas. You’ll feel amazing and comfortable in these clothes – and you’ll also feel good about your purchase, knowing that all of the items are sustainably sourced.
About: Marie and I met through social media, and quickly became friends. We’ve since worked together on numerous projects – including adventure photography sessions, adventure elopements, and even filming some videos for Kula Cloth. Marie and her husband Evan are vanlifers who travel the country shooting adventure sessions/elopements.
Why: An adventure session is a gift that keeps on giving, long after the holidays have passed. What I love about Marie is that her focus is really on giving her couples the space to be themselves – so that they can be captured in the most authentic way possible. She wants her couples to remember how they felt together in that moment.
About: Makenzie Wrinkle is the creative genius behind the simple, yet stunning, MakW Designs. She was born and raised in the rain shadow of the Olympic National Forest in the Pacific Northwest. Her experiences in the wilderness fill her soul, enabling her to cultivate the inspiration and creativity that she channels into her designs.
Why: This jewelry is not only beautiful, it’s also practical and durable. As somebody who spends a great deal of time searching for accessories that will be compatible with Musical Mountaineering, I look for designs that will work both on and off the trail.
Makenzi recently opened a brick and mortar store in Kingston, Washington. Her store is a handcrafted jewelry and art collective, and even features the work of Claire Giordano (mentioned above!). You can visit her shop at: 11133 NE Main St., Kingston, WA.
About: Kelly Selzler is a local photographer in the PNW who is making waves in the field of landscape photography. Kelly hikes and climbs great distances to capture fleeting moments in the mountains… she spends hours taking photos of a single flower… and she has an uncanny ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary through her abstract photos.
Why: Kelly’s prints have a way of bringing the feeling of the mountains into a room. She is able to capture the moments that we feel in the wilderness in her photographs. These are not ‘just photos’ – these are museum quality works of art that will transform any space into a spot that evokes the joy of wilderness exploration.
A short note about giving…
In my group coaching program (Stuck to Summit) and with my private clients, I talk a lot about ‘raising your energy’. This can seem like a lot of woo – and it’s easy to dismiss giving as being ‘materialistic’, but if you look at it appropriately, giving is an extremely powerful act for both the giver and the receiver.
Note: you do not have to give away something monetary in value – it is just as beneficial to give away a compliment. The important part of the giving is that it must be intentional. So, if you decide to give a compliment, you must set out with specific intent to deliver the compliment to the receiving party. You may also choose to give away items that do have monetary value – a coffee to a stranger, a book, etc… use your creativity and find a way to give that feels good and authentic to you.
Why do we give? Giving serves two distinct purposes:
- Raises our energetic vibration
- Places us into the flow of abundance
When you give, you are telling the universe that you believe there is enough for all of us. Instead of working against the current by living in a place of fear/doubt/scarcity, you are placing yourself in a mode of allowing where you accept that there is enough in the world for everybody.
When you give freely, you move from the competitive mind and into the creative mind. You move away from competition and into collaboration.
Giving shouldn’t be limited to only the holidays. What can you do to start incorporating a giving practice into your daily life? What would happen if you started to live your life from a place of gratitude and abundance?